American casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson will be allowed to build his new multibillion-dollar “EuroVegas” casino resort on the outskirts of Madrid.
The 79-year-old, once listed by Forbes as one of the dozen wealthiest men in America, has seen his casino plans challenged by street protesters who believe the project will do more harm than good.
More than a dozen organizations, mainly linked to environmental causes or to the political left, last year created the “Eurovegas No” platform to oppose the project.
However, on Feb. 8 Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casinos and the local authority announced the development had been given the go-ahead.
The protesters reacted by saying Las Vegas Sands wanted to create an “island” for gambling and will count on specially granted tax breaks and the relaxation of laws regulating smoking bans.
They also said the project will promote unwanted activities such as prostitution and only create low-level jobs such as card dealers, waiters and chamber maids.
They say Spain’s young people now need more investment in higher skilled jobs.
Madrid regional government president Ignacio Gonzalez said Eurovegas will occupy an area equivalent to 750 football fields in the suburb city of Alcorcon. The first phase of construction will begin later this year.
Building the entire complex just south of Madrid is likely to take up to 18 years and is expected to create 260,000 jobs.
The protesters questioned whether it would bring value to the region and said it will cost Spain more in grants, concessions and problems than it would yield in benefits.
While Spain is dipping in and out of recession and has an unemployment rate of 26 percent, the Madrid casino complex – 12 hotels, six casinos, a convention center, three golf courses, theaters, shopping malls, bars and restaurants – will need an investment of nearly $30 million.
Las Vegas Sands chief exec Michael Leven says his company can cover 35 percent of the cost, and it believes the rest can be found locally.
Meeting with Madrid officials at the site of the new EuroVegas casino project.
May 6, 2012
He hinted that Spanish bankers may be among the potential investors.